West Coast Ports

Productivity is the name of the game for West Coast ports leading up to the expansion of the Panama Canal in 2015. Unlike many of the ports on the East and Gulf coasts that are deepening their harbors and enlarging their marine terminals to prepare for the mega-ships that will begin transiting the canal in 2015, the major West Coast gateways already have 50-foot harbors and terminals of 100 to more than 400 acres in size.

In order to prevent an erosion of market share to East Coast ports, the Seattle-Tacoma, Oakland and Los Angeles-Long Beach gateways must improve their efficiency in unloading vessels, moving containers through the yards and expediting the departure of containers by truck and intermodal rail.

The 25 to 26 container moves per crane per hour that mark West Coast port operations must be increased to at least 30 moves per hour. Terminal operators are exploring options for automating yard, gate and on-dock rail operations. The busiest terminals will invest in costly equipment such as dual-hoist cranes, automated guided vehicles and automated stacking cranes. The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, which together handle about 40 percent of U.S. imports from Asia, will spend more than $7 billion in the coming decade on larger, more efficient terminals and improved connectivity to rail and highway networks.

Offering a transit time advantage of a week to 10 days to the U.S. interior, and the potential for reducing per-slot vessel costs by hundreds of dollars with the arrival of vessels having a capacity of 13,000-TEU capacity, West Coast ports want to beat the canal by even further expanding their 70 percent market share of U.S. imports from Asia.

 

Special Coverage

Total Terminals International last month set what company executives say is a new North American record by working nine cranes against a vessel, completing 2,285 container moves over eight hours. But the Long Beach terminal operator was seeking more than just bragging rights.

News & Analysis

12 Feb 2016
The Port of Oakland Commission Thursday approved a $1.5 million program to help fund night and weekend gates during the next 12 weeks when Outer Harbor Terminals will transition out of the port and its cargo volume is redistributed to other facilities.
12 Feb 2016
APM Terminals plans to retrofit at least five cranes at its Pier 400 terminal at Los Angeles to make them capable of handling fully laden mega-ships of up to 20,000 twenty-foot-equivalent units.
11 Feb 2016
In a sign that U.S. container volumes in 2016 could turn out better than forecast, the Port of Los Angeles last month handled 704,398 twenty-foot-equivalent units, making it the busiest January in the port’s history.
09 Feb 2016
Containerized imports at U.S. ports are projected to increase by double digits in January and February compared to the same months last year, when dozens of vessels were stranded outside of West Coast ports due to labor problems.
08 Feb 2016
Rather than being a loss for the Port of Oakland, the pending departure of Outer Harbor Terminal will be an economic plus to the port complex because it will concentrate more revenue-producing container volume into fewer marine terminals in order to fund their growth, Executive Director Chris Lytle said at the weekend.
Port of Savannah
03 Feb 2016
U.S. East Coast ports toppled the U.S. West Coast in international containerized ocean volume and market share for the first nine months of 2015, handling 47.1 percent of the 24 million TEUs moving through the U.S., while West Coast ports handled 44.5 percent.

Commentary

With much of our surface transportation infrastructure decaying and becoming functionally obsolete, we can’t wait 40 years for Congress to confront the threat posed to our economy by inadequate railways, tunnels, bridges and roads, including those connecting to seaports.

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Video

Don Snyder, Port of Long Beach's Director of Business Development, on the lasting impact of the 2015 labor upset at West Coast ports. Looking to 2016, Snyder says, many processes have been improved and investments made, and productivity gains are being seen already. In this interview, he explains the response to supply chain optimization needs and working with multiple partners to ensure smooth transfers.
Don Krusel, Prince Rupert Port Authority president/CEO, speaks about competitiveness, labor relations and plans for expansion.
Dr. Noel Hacegaba, deputy executive director, Port of Long Beach, discusses port productivity and the impact of mega-ships, the role of infrastructure investment, and the need to emphasize system improvements to increase efficiency.